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Displaying items by tag: Coastal Notes

#Shipwrecks - Two new shipwrecks have been discovered in Connemara in areas known to be used by smugglers in centuries past, as The Irish Times reports.

Currach fisherman John Bhaba Jeaic Ó Conghaíle found the skeletal remains of what's thought to be an 18th-century vessel at Cuan Chaisín in Ceantar na nOileáin.

Elsewhere, Fahy Bay resident Michael Barry located a second wreck, believed to date from the 19th century, near his home on the northwest Connemara coast – inshore from the Spanish Armada wreck Falco Blanco Mediano.

The area is known as the birthplace of sea captain George O'Malley, one of the most notorious smugglers of his day.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CliffFall - An RNLI beach lifeguard aided a man who fell onto rocks while walking a steep cliff path on Whiterocks beach in Portrush yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 30 March).

The call for help came after a member of the group the man was with observed him fall just before 1pm and raised the alarm.

After arriving on scene, senior RNLI lifeguard Jamie Russell immediately began to administer casualty care to the conscious man, who had fallen some 12 feet from the coastal path. He was joined on scene by a paramedic and they continued to provide assistance.

However with an incoming tide and a challenging location, it was decided that removing the casualty would require the assistance of Coleraine coastguard.

The man was secured on a stretcher and carefully moved by the group around the rocks to a waiting ambulance.

Commenting on the callout, RNLI lifeguard supervisor Karl O’Neill said: "This incident was quite a challenging one to respond to due to the nature and location of the fall.

"Thankfully the man was conscious but we did not want to risk any further discomfort or injury by moving him ourselves. I would like to thank members of Coleraine coastguard for their assistance."

Whiterocks is one of five beaches being patrolled by RNLI lifeguard during the Easter holidays, continuing till Monday 4 April, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

#DiverConcerns - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been called upon by divers to withdraw a permit issued to Dublin Port which allows it to dump “dredge spoil” off Dublin Bay, writes The Irish Times.

The Irish Underwater Council said the permit approved by the EPA was issued before designation of a special area of conservation (SAC) in Dublin Bay extending from Rockabill to Dalkey Island.

Dublin Port wants to carry out maintenance dredging on its main shipping route in April and intends to use an existing EPA permit which it applied for in 2009.

The port’s “spoil site” is on the edge of the Burford Bank, and it stresses that all material in the navigation channel is either uncontaminated or “slightly/moderately” contaminated.

It points out that such maintenance dredging has been routine since the early 1880s and is intended to ensure ships do not run aground approaching or leaving the port.

However, the Irish Underwater Council and diver Peadar Farrell contend that the EPA permit was issued before designation of the Rockabill to Dalkey Island SAC.

The Burford Bank spoil site 5km southeast of Howth lies within the SAC, the diving organisation points out.

For further coverage of this story, click here.

Published in Dublin Port

#CoastalNotes - Marine Institute researchers assisted marine technology students from Cape Fear Community College in the USA by deploying their miniature marine research vessel from the RV Celtic Explorer last Sunday 20 March.

The students in Cape Fear Community College’s boat building programme spent two months building Marlin Spikin’ Miller, which washed up on the shores of a Connemara island recently some eight months after being put to sea 6,000 miles across the Atlantic, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The boat is a miniature fibreglass sailboat designed to journey with the ocean winds and currents. It is embedded with a small satellite transmitter mounted on the deck and sends back data to the students which they use to monitor ocean and wind currents.

Cape Fear's boat building programme is unique in its kind and is part of a project in which a handful of schools across the USA are included.

Ciaran O’Donnell of the Marine Institute commented: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to play a role in this project and will look forward to seeing where the vessel will end up next.”

The Celtic Explorer launched the Marlin Spikin’ Miller at the most south-westerly point of the current blue whiting acoustic survey off the coast of Ireland.

The survey will run for another fortnight and will assess the size of the spawning stock of blue whiting in western waters. Ireland has participated in the international survey programme since 2004.

Acoustic data, age and maturity of blue whiting samples from all participants are combined to provide a measure of the relative abundance of the blue whiting stock.

The annual abundance estimate and stock numbers at age are presented to the ICES Working Group of Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE).

Published in Coastal Notes

#Tourism - A number of waterside destinations feature in a new Lonely Planet list of the top 21 things to do in Ireland - just in time for the St Patrick's Festival.

TheJournal.ie has the lowdown on the tourism and travel guide's picks, which include the windswept coasts and breathtaking lakes of Connemara, the picturesque Dingle Peninsula, the 'unforgettable' Glendalough and the stunning sights around the Ring of Kerry.

And that's not to mention the rugged beauty of the Donegal coastline, the magnificence of the Causeway Coast and the remarkable history of Titanic Belfast.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
Tagged under

#StarWars - Rumours that Star Wars film crews are set to decamp for the Donegal coast are just that, as the Government department responsible has not confirmed permission.

According to TheJournal.ie, location scouts for Lucasfilm have been spotted in the Malin Head area searching for appropriately dramatic vistas for future instalments of the epic sci-fi film series.

But while Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys has confirmed that a "limited amount of filming" will take place on Sybil Head in Dingle later this year, no such permission has been granted for Donegal – and the minister would not comment on the existence of any talks over the same.

Star Wars fever has gripped the Kerry coast since last year as the Skelligs featured prominently in the smash hit blockbuster The Force Awakens.

But the filming has not been without its share of controversy over repairs to monastic ruins and alleged interference with protected seabird species at the Unesco World Heritage site.

More recently, a long-time guide on Skellig Michael spoke out over the State's facilitating of the two Lucasfilm shoots on the island for The Force Awakens and next year's sequel, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Galway - Galway Bay FM reports on a new volunteer search and rescue unit set up near the city weeks after community efforts to locate missing NUI Galway student Michael Bulger.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Bulger's body was recovered from the water near Oranmore on Galway Bay early last month after three weeks of searches largely driven by local volunteers.

Now the Oranmore-Maree Costal Search Unit, which will hold a public meeting on Monday week, hopes to harness those efforts across a 30km span of coastline split into nine zones with the co-operation of the Garda, Civil Defence and the RNLI.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

#CoastalNotes - The rights of coastal communities involved in the likes of small-scale fishing and seaweed harvesting must be respected in any 'Blue Growth' strategy, a UN expert has said.

The Irish Times reports on comments made by UN fisheries chief Dr Rebecca Metzner upon her visit to Galway this week, where she heard the concerns of inshore fishermen who have protested against large-scale fish farming.

Local campaigners breathed relief in December when Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) withdrew its application for what would have been the largest organic salmon farm in Europe, based off the Aran Islands in Galway Bay.

While recognising that aquaculture is required to "fill the gap" in the growing global demand for seafood, Dr Metzner emphasised that dialogue over shared access between local communities and larger commercial interests should be fundamental to any such plans.

She also heard from Connemara seaweed harvesters, who fear the loss of access to the coastline over legislation that may allow harvesting rights to be snapped up by much bigger State-owned enterprises – a situation the Government promised to review two years ago.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - An American college's unmanned research vessel has been found on the shores of a Connemara island some eight months after students put it to sea 6,000 miles across the Atlantic in North Carolina.

As Port City Daily reports, the Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) vessel, appearing like a miniature sailboat, was discovered recently with its mast broken off on the coast of Illaunurra by kayaking father-and-son duo Keith and Graham Roberts.

Inside the boat, they found instructions on who to contact if it were recovered – which is how CFCC marine science teacher Jacqui Degan and her class learned the fate of their project.

Marlin Spikin’ Miller, as the boat was named, is one of two fibreglass boats kitted out with transmitters that the students set adrift south of Wilmington, North Carolina.

And that it survived its long-distance journey over many months relatively intact is a testament to the college's boatbuilding students, who collaborated with the science department on the project

Port City Daily has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - 'Poisonous parsnips' on Co Antrim coastal beaches have prompted warnings to dog owners, as BelfastLive reports.

Warning signs were put up at Ballygally, Carnfunnock and Drains Bay earlier this month after locals found evidence of hemlock water dropwort roots, which are extremely toxic to animals – particularly at this time of year.

It's thought that the plant is previously responsible for the death of at least one dog that tried to eat one at Drains Bay in 2014.

In other recent news from Northern Ireland, a seal spotted swimming in the River Lagan has been hailed as a sign of its good water quality.

Video of what appears to be a grey seal happily bobbing along upstream near the Ormeau Embankment was captued by Belfast man Brendan McNeice, who thought the sight "unusual".

But marine wildlife expert Tanya Singleton told UTV News that seals swimming so far up the river is actually a regular occurrence – and a good sign for the waterway's health as they chase booming fish stocks as far as Lisburn.

Published in Coastal Notes
Page 5 of 24

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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